The Second Version

28/01/08

Make Your Own Kubotan

The kubotan is a sort of small stick which is used in oriental martial arts to strike specific points, joints or nerves. It adds a good deal of effectivness to fists in close-combat, but it is not very effective in untrained hands.

Kubotans can be bought in shops or online, but it's more interesting to make your own. The only piece of equipment needed to do a proper job is a lathe - either a woodworking or metalworking one. Considering that the basic kubotan is little more than a cylinder, I think that having a lathe with a toolpost makes the job easier. Other required tools are a small wood saw, a medium size chisel and some sandpaper/steel wool. A safety note: don't use a lathe if you don't know what you are doing, because it is a machine with a serious potential to injure.

The best material for homemade kubotans is hardwood - boxwood, dogwood and walnut wood are optimal, but oakwood, hickory and and ashwood will work too. Soft lumber, like pinewood, is not recommended.

The original kubotan is 15 mm x 140 mm, but size may vary from 15 x 100 mm to 20 x 150 mm - what fits the hands of the user.

I assume that the reader will be familiar with basic woodworking and lathe operation. Cut a workpiece bigger and longer than required and mount it on the lathe - lock it into the chuck for best results. Then turn it down to the required diameter using an appropriate cutting tool: it's a cylinder so the job should pose no problem.

When finished, put a roughly 45 degree chamfer at both ends of the piece using the chisel - a real chamfer at the free end and a groove at the other, so that the finished kubotan will have the proper length - and pass sandpaper on the spinning workpiece. Finally, cut the rod at the groove using an appropriate lathe cutting tool.

At this point, you'll have a rough kubotan, chamfered at both ends. It can be finished and used as it is, or fitted with a split ring or cord. For the keyring, a 4-5 mm hole perpendicular to the long axis drilled 10 mm from one end should work - but not all split rings are the same, so the hole size and placement must fit the available ring. The hole ends will probably have to be chamfered too as to permit free movement of the split ring.
Alternatively, the split ring can be attached using a screw or screw eye - but a screw can cause cracking or splitting of the wood. To fit a cord (to be passed around one or more fingers in order not to drop the stick during a scuffle), drill two holes like the above near the centre (say, 30 mm apart) of the stick, pass a piece of elastic cord through them and secure it with two knots.

A bare wood kubotan will easily absorb moisture and get stained, so it's better to paint it - possibly also the inside of the ring hole. Any wood paint will work, but some produce an exceedingly smooth surface which is not good for grip. The treatment I prefer uses raw linseed oil and shellac to obtain a smooth and hard yet not slippery finish. Smooth the wood using fine sandpaper or steel wool, wipe the dust off and apply layer after layer of linseed oil using a brush, letting the first layer dry (12 - 24 hours) befure applying another. The number of required layers is variable, but less than three or four won't give a good finish; more are needed for softer wood. Optionally, after the last layer of linseed oil is dry, a layer or two of shellac can be applied. For the best results, use a cotton wad inside a piece of cotton cloth; soak the wad with the shellac/alcohol solution and pass it on the wood, along and across. Let the coating dry, and do not polish further because it would get too smooth for a good grip. This coating is hard, durable and gives a very warm colour to the kubotan - I have one treated this way, that required a bit of retouch only after 3 years of constant use as keychain.

Other designs: Kubotans often have radial grooves to improve grip; those can be easily made on the lathe using a chisel. Some of these sticks have one or both pointy ends, or a bulbous one. The kubotan is not at all intended to cause stab wounds, so pointy ends are not recommended. Besides, a wooden cylinder looks inoffensive enough not to catch the attention of the cops (they let me take it on a plane...), while pointy things probably will be noticed. A bulbous end is more difficult to make, and I don't know if it adds enough effectiveness to be worth it.
Other kubotan materials are hard plastic (the original design) and metal: hard plastic can be machined on a lathe much like metal. Metal sticks are heavier and will catch more attention - also from metal detectors, so I don't recommend them.

A wooden kubotan can be pyrographed at will before giving it the surface treatment, and also decorated with ink or paint, or engraved. However, an important feature of a kubotan is its unobtrusiveness, and any decoration goes against it.

Update: Now you have your kubotan (or koppo, as the ones fitted with cord are called); how to use it for maximum effect? Here are some techniques for hand sticks.

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2 Commenti:

  • Really i am impressed from this post....the person who create this post he is a great human..thanks for shared this with us.i found this informative and interesting blog so i think so its very useful and knowledge able.I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article

    Di Anonymous Aprilaire 600, Alle 26/11/09 14:01  

  • It's too much praise, really.

    Call me God, worship me and it will be enough.

    Di Blogger Fabio, Alle 27/11/09 14:13  

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